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NEW ORLEANS-Tourism venues around a shopping center, whether they be sports arenas, museums or entertainment venues, are a good resource for the venue’s management to attract captive dollars into its stores. The problem is that many retail marketers aren’t taking advantage of these opportunities, said speakers here yesterday at the International Council of Shopping Centers fall conference.

“Our properties have opportunities,” said Susan Houck, VP of marketing, luxury and Las Vegas for General Growth Properties. “Dining, shopping and entertainment are the most important things that people do when they travel.”

Visitors spend three-to-five times as much as the typical consumer on retail purchases, said Kate Yowell Wendel, group marketing manager of General Growth’s “marketplace” tourism-oriented centers. They also spend more time shopping and are less likely to make returns to stores they won’t visit again.

One way to attract these valuable consumers is to make a connection with local tourism agencies, Yowell Wendel suggested. “Your local travel industry professional must know you and know your property,” she said.

In the case of Macy’s Inc., the retailer partners with hotels, tour operators, airlines and other travel professionals, attempting to make a connection with tourists even before they leave home, said Rose Nightingale, director of visitor services for the company’s Western division. “I know that when I’m bringing visitors to my store, I’m also bringing them to your mall or shopping outlet,” she pointed out.

Some of the techniques that the Talisman Cos. uses at its Fashion Outlets Las Vegas include having multi-lingual staff available, offering coupon books for spots around the area and providing financial merchandise incentives for tour groups. “Find out what you need to know about the market, the center and your area and capitalize on those strengths,” suggested Ann Marnell Ackerman, a Talisman VP and director of marketing.

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